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Do-it-yourself banking eliminates middleman

July 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's do-it-yourself home improvement, do-it-yourself health care, so why not do-it-yourself banking? It's a trend in branches around the country, where new technology is making it easier than ever for you to get to your money without a middleman. And soon, simply with your smartphone.

An ATM that will wish you a happy birthday, sell you stamps, and still spit out the money you need? It exists -- and there's more.

"Being able to choose what language you would like to be served in, you are able to choose how you want your receipt," said Karmon Clay, a Wells Fargo assistant vice president. "You can order checks, you can actually even set an appointment for a personal banker to give you a call, all from the ATM."

How about a live remote video teller? And though it's not in use quite yet, the technology exists to use your smartphone instead of a bank card.

Inside some banks and credit unions you may find special new PIN pads that essentially transform the teller line to self-service too.

"Think of it as at the airline," said Doug Johnson, a vice president and senior adviser at the American Bankers Association. "Think how much faster you get through the line at the airline now as opposed to what you did in the past, but there's always someone there that can help to the extent that you need that assistance at the airline counters, and the same is true in financial institutions."

So instead of filling out a deposit or withdrawal slip and digging out your account numbers, now all that info is fed right to the teller.

"What the customer does is just presents their ATM card at the PIN pad, they swipe the card similar to the ATM, enter their PIN number and all the information flows to the teller screen," said Clay.

Banks and credit unions love it because it not only cuts back on costs, but frees the teller up for real conversations about other services that could bring more money in the door. Customers love it too.

Some people though aren't eager to embrace technology, especially when it comes to their money. And banking leaders want them to know the teller isn't going to disappear entirely, at least not anytime soon.

"If an individual wants to use the teller line, the individual can go to the teller and have that human-to-human contact," said Johnson. "We just want to make sure that all the options are available."


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